Happy Mercy Academy after winning the LIVT
As we prepare for our first in-season national rankings on Thursday, let’s take a look at some weekend results that might have a bearing on our top 100. This article is based in large part on reports we received via email over the past three days. We’ll report on more tourney results from the weekend that was in our Friday Court Report.
LIVT – Louisville, Kentucky
There will be a new No. 1 team in the nation on Thursday when our first in-season national rankings are released. Our pick in the pre-season, Louisville Assumption, still playing without top OH Miranda Elpers (knee), dropped not one but two matches at the loaded Louisville Invitational Tournament on Saturday. The Rockets (9-2) fell in three sets to national No. 22 Notre Dame Academy in the semifinals, then were swept by No. 2 Mother McAuley in the third-place match. Notre Dame’s win over Assumption, its in-state rival, was its first in almost 20 years.
Mother McAuley will not be the new No. 1. The Mighty Macs (7-1) might have bested Assumption (those teams could play two more times this season) but they lost in straight sets in the LIVT semifinals to No. 18 Mercy Academy, which also defeated Notre Dame Academy (8-2) and No. 35 Sacred Heart on Saturday.
Mercy (12-0) could ascend to the top spot. The Jaguars won the tournament for the first time since 2008 by outlasting NDA in three sets, in large part due to the sensational play of outside hitters Courtney Crable and Merideth Jewell. Crable, a top 100 Senior Ace headed to Auburn, had 20 kills in the match. Jewell had three kills and two blocks in Game 2 to help Mercy force a third set, then made an inspirational hustle play in Game 3 to spark the win. The junior dove into the bleachers for a ball and gashed her knee almost to the bone. After the bleeding stopped, she returned to the court and jump served three aces to help the Jaguars close out the win.
"I was really proud of our team’s effort,” said Mercy coach Todd Garvey. “The LIVT was loaded this year and we faced a lot of good teams on Saturday. We have come a long way since the start of the season, and are really coming together as a team. Everyone took turns making big contributions this weekend. And when our backs were against the wall, we stepped up every time and that was great to see. We know it's still early and we have a lot we still need to improve on if we want to be there in the end."
Ordinarily, when an undefeated team like the Mercy Jaguars wins a tourney as stacked as the LIVT, it’s an easy choice to make them No. 1 nationally. Not so fast in this case, however, as Jewell’s leg required 20 stitches that will keep her out of the lineup for two weeks or more. The team’s depth will be tested in her absence, as Mercy embarks on the toughest part of its schedule, starting with Assumption tomorrow night!
For Assumption, it’s time to regroup. The team is struggling with chemistry issues right now and needs a terminator on one of the pins. It might be Elpers, who is hoping for a release from her doctor in the next week or two. But coach Ron Kordes also has a couple of talented freshmen on his bench who could get pressed into early playing time.